Montclair State Student Wins Third Place in Auto Safety Design Competition

Montclair State University student Antonio Giannattasio, a sophomore in the Industrial Design program, has won third place in the 2011 Designs for Safety Competition at the New York International Auto Show.

Giannattasio, 23, from Whippany, New Jersey, was presented with a $1,000 scholarship on April 29, at the New York International Auto Show, with an additional $250 going to his instructor, Winfield Parsons, assistant professor of Art and Design.

Giannattasio’s winning design, titled “Safety Shade,” is an orange-colored reflective shade featuring a large X with flashing LED lights that attaches to the underside of an open trunk and can be pulled down like an ordinary shade to warn oncoming motorists of a disabled car or accident.

Entries were judged by representatives from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the New York City Department of Transportation, the Automobile Association of America, and the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association.

Giannattasio got the idea for the project while driving one night and seeing a number of cars pulled over on the side of the highway.  “It was hard to see them at night and I wanted to come up with something that would warn people farther in advance,” he said, noting that flashers or flares are not easy to spot at a distance.
His four-foot long Safety Shade is designed to be seen from 50 yards away; the LED lights run on the car’s battery.

The competition attracted 35 entries from across the country. This is the second year in a row that a Montclair State student has placed in the national competition. Last year, Brenda Villegas, then a sophomore Industrial Design student, took fourth place for a design that detects if a car is hydroplaning and corrects the situation by spraying air in front of the tires to displace the water and provide traction.

When notified he had won third place, Giannattasio said he was “shocked.” “I thought the idea was too simple,” he recalled, “but I decided to go with it and I stuck to my gut.”

Parsons felt proud of his student, enthusing that Giannattasio “just did phenomenally” and that he earned a well-deserved A in the course (Industrial Design Studio Beginning).

Denis Feigler, Program Director for the Industrial Design Program, received an invitation for students to participate in this year’s contest. In preparing for the competition, Industrial Design students were encouraged to come up with ideas and prototypes for industrial products that could prevent injuries or fatalities in auto accidents. “They were all good ideas, but this was the one the judges liked the most,” Parsons said.

The overall quality of the work by students from Montclair State was recognized when the ideas of six other students were included in an exhibit of the top designs on display at the auto show. “I think this shows that we are doing a hell of a good job,” said Parsons, adding that every year “100%” of the students in his industrial design class have jobs when they graduate.

Giannattasio said he planned to use the $1,000 for his summer internship tuition, while Parsons said he would donate the $250 he received to the Industrial Design Trust Fund, which was set up eight years ago to cover program and scholarship costs.

The next step for Giannattasio may be pursuing a design patent for his Safety Shade, and possibly manufacturing or licensing his product, which Parsons suggested could be priced in the $40-$60 range.   In looking ahead, Giannattasio said he hopes to work for a design company or even to one day open his own industrial design business.